Find out about the support you get to carry out a volunteer role safely and effectively.
Applies to England
Natural England wants you to enjoy your voluntary role and provides support to help you achieve this.
Theis an agreement between Natural England and its volunteers that sets out what to expect of each other.
Health and safety
You must be committed to health and safety and are responsible for carrying out your volunteer role safely. Natural England requires you to consider the effect your actions may have on your own safety and that of other people.
Natural England provides volunteers with:
- health and safety information as part of your induction, including lone working protocols where applicable
- regular health and safety updates
- health and safety training
- personal protective equipment
To report an incident, such as an accident, injury or near miss:
You must report all incidents. By reporting them you:
- prevent something similar from happening again and possibly harming someone
- alert Natural England to potential hazards it’s unaware of
- help create a safe and healthy working environment for everyone
- comply with any external reporting requirements
- help Natural England address training, guidance or equipment issues
It may seem unnecessary or even embarrassing to report near misses, but they are ‘accidents waiting to happen’.
Natural England self-insures its volunteers in the same way as it does staff. If there’s an accident or injury (personal or third party) Natural England will aim to support you provided you have:
- not behaved negligently
- acted in good faith
- followed all guidelines or instructions provided by an authorised person
Natural England deals with incidents on a case-by-case basis.
Data protection and confidentiality
Natural England asks for personal information such as your address and telephone number when you register. See the volunteers privacy notice for details of how Natural England handles your data.
While volunteering you may have access to confidential information. This may include the names and addresses of private individuals or locations of threatened species. Natural England asks you to respect the confidentiality of such information during and after your placement.
It is Natural England’s policy that all eligible people will have an equal opportunity for placement as a volunteer on the basis of their ability. This applies to all volunteers irrespective of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation. Natural England:
- will treat you fairly
- understands that combining home and work life with a voluntary role is sometimes difficult
- will respect your right to decline a task at any time
- aims to increase the diversity of volunteers to help involve more local people in supporting its work
For more information on equal opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claim out-of-pocket expenses
Contact your Natural England volunteer supervisor for a volunteer expenses claim form.
Volunteering while claiming benefits
Volunteering may affect your entitlement to benefits.
Check with your benefits office if there are restrictions on the type and quantity of voluntary work you can do.
When you tell the benefits office you plan to register or have registered as a volunteer with Natural England, let them know you:
- are not required to provide a minimum amount of commitment
- are not required to remain a volunteer for any length of time
- do not receive more than out-of-pocket expenses
Use of private vehicles
Natural England promotes the use of public transport wherever possible. Where the use of public transport is impractical, you may prefer to use your own vehicle.
If you have a vehicle and use it during your voluntary role, for example travel to a site, you should inform your motor insurance company. Most insurance companies:
- recognise this is not ‘business use’ of a vehicle, as there’s no profit made from voluntary work
- advise this should not affect insurance premiums
Average running costs
The 45 pence standard mileage rate used by Natural England is:
- enough to cover average running costs
- classified as a non-profit rate by HMRC under the Fixed Profit Car Scheme
The Automobile Association (AA) give details of average running costs which:
- include fuel, oil, tyres, servicing, repairs and replacements
- do not include standing costs of car ownership such as finance, road tax, insurance, breakdown cover or depreciation
If you have a vehicle, you are responsible for its maintenance. Natural England accepts no responsibility for the cost of MOTs, insurance, servicing, repair, breakdown cover, depreciation, oil or fuel.
Volunteer bat roost visitors (VBRVs)
National Nature Reserve and all other volunteers